Ask a therapist: What to do if you're feeling lonely
For all kinds of reasons, young people now are feeling lonelier than ever. That’s why we decided to ask for help from Rashida Dungarwalla, a registered psychologist working with The Indigo Project. In her work, she regularly hears from young people who feel left out of life at their school, uni, workplace or with their family and friends.
She talked to us about what’s making young people feel so lonely, why feeling lonely is more normal than you’d think, and what you can do about it.
A few things we’ve learned:
‘Not having friends’ is just one of the many reasons why people might feel lonely. Many young people feel lonely despite having good relationships with friends and family. It’s all about the level of connection you have with the world around you.
The truth is, it’s normal for young people to experience loneliness. It mostly happens for really common reasons like transitions in your life such as those between school, work, and higher education.
Research shows that a lot of young people feel pressure to socialise all the time. This can mean that you might feel uncomfortable when you’re alone, and like you should be doing things with others.
It’s important to try and enjoy your alone time and use it to recharge and reset. This means stop the doomscrolling, and do something that you really enjoy!
If you do think you need to up your social game, building social skills is just like building any other set of skills. You’ll find it’s a lot easier when you start small and work your way up over time. That’s why ‘micro-interactions’ with people like baristas, classmates or rideshare drivers can be helpful.
Mindfulness can be a really helpful tool to make us a little less nervous about social interactions.
Many other people might feel lonely because of life transitions, especially younger people.